Getting a Hold on style-A A +A
Thursday, August 29, 2013
FEW people know the minaudiere the way Neil Felipp San Pedro does.
To most, it’s an ornamental case that women can carry small personal items in, like a handbag, to evening occasions. To this designer, the minaudiere is a way of telling a story that starts from personal memories to a globally competitive name.
He launched the Neil Felipp brand half a year ago, but has been designing for six years at internships with Kenneth Cobonpue, Oj Hofer and Cary Santiago. Coming from a family that is known for making class rings and other jewelry, venturing into design came naturally to Neil.
He found his love in accessories and the minaudiere while admiring the women in his family as they got ready for social events. “My mother and grandmother always wore beautiful, elegant dresses with statement accessories.”
The 24-year-old designer says he combines detailed metal artisanship and material explorations to give Neil Felipp creations an allure of both the past and the present.
“I believe we get our inspiration from our memories,” he says. His Siren minaudiere was inspired by his exposure to movies when he was younger.
The Little Mermaid, a favorite movie for most children, left such an impression on Neil that he was able to translate a character from a Disney movie to one of his most iconic pieces. Also based on his childhood memories of playing in the family’s factory and seeing how brass was used, he thought of going further for the Siren design and decided on silver plating the mermaid on the minaudiere. He experimented with capiz and came up with blue capiz inlay to make it reminiscent of water. With memories as his design inspiration and innovating available materials, the Siren becomes “more than just a clutch. It’s a story.”
Unlike those who design for the “now,” Neil’s designs aren’t meant to be fleeting. He wants his pieces to be passed on, carrying their stories from generation to generation. “You could say that designers are storytellers. Each design should tell a story. It’s how the designer connects with the consumer.”
A proud Cebuano, Neil wants to elevate Cebu’s reputation for fashion and design. As international designers indicate that they are in New York, Milan, Paris and other cities, this brand indicates Neil Felipp Cebu. “I’m proud of where I come from,” he says. “Where you come from is where you learn the most.”
Neil tries to develop two collections every year. He started out with skull rings, which evolved into skull cuffs. He tries to cover earrings and necklaces with each collection, and will soon have belt buckles and cufflinks in his designs.
As a young Cebuano making his own name in the design industry, Neil sees his brand going globally, and it’s steadily getting there. He currently has pieces on consignment at Butch Carungay for District 32 in the Mactan airport and at the Cura V boutique in Rockwell, Manila. He has a distributor in the US, and clients from Singapore, Malaysia and Australia have ordered the Siren after seeing his designs online.
“Neil Felipp is more than a brand made by a Filipino,” Neil says. “It’s a brand that can compete in the global arena.”
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 30, 2013.